Poker Home Games – Baseball Variation

October 16, 2007

All right, as promised, a run-through of different card games using the basic rules of baseball. I don’t know who came up with baseball, but to me it’s crazy enough as far as card games, though. But, then, when you’re sitting there at 4 in the morning with a group of guys who’ve played every game 20 times and are looking for a little variety, your brain starts working overtime, and, well….this is what you come up with.

MIDNIGHT BASEBALL

Also goes by a few other names, one being Mexican, although I have no idea why.

This one is pretty different from standard 7-card stud, although everyone is initially dealt 7 cards.

1.) Everyone gets 7 cards, all face down, and nobody is allowed to look at their cards. You can shuffle them if you feel so inclined, but if you look, you fold, because the whole point of the game is not only for your opponents to be in the dark as to what you’re holding, but you, as well.

2.) There are two different ways to start off the first hand. Either the first person flips one card up out of his hand, and that becomes the “card to beat”, or….a card is drawn from the middle of the deck, and the first person to go must beat that card.

3.) and by “beat”, I mean the person who’s turn it is must continue to expose cards one by one until his or her poker hand beats that of the previous person’s hand (or the intial draw off the deck), so that the hand of whoever’s turn it is ends up being the best hand on the table at that time.

4.) Example, if the first person to go flips up a King, and the deck card drawn is a 5, he currently has the best hand, and does not have to flip up any more cards. If the next person, then, to play flips up a Jack, he must flip up another card, and another until his hand can beat King high, and etc…

5.) There is a round of bettting after each person’s turn.

6.) As expected, baseball rules apply. Your 3’s and 9’s are wild, and the great twist there is that 3’s still force a match the pot or fold (if you want to play that way). I love that rule in this game, because it forces you to a decision, and if the 3 is your first or second card, it’s an even tougher decision since you have no idea what the rest of your hand holds in store.
4’s, as well, are an extra card for the price of the ante (or whatever you set it at). 4’s in the game are going to go face up at some point anyway, but I suppose you could always save it face down until the end of your cards. It’s up to you.

Well, that’s about it for Midnight. This one can get pretty crazy and end up have people yelling at their own cards. I’ve had 2 people in various games vow never to play midnight again because they hate the idea of not knowing what they’re hand is at all before they’re forced to match a bet on the table (it happens often.)

But I like the variety, and the game is definitely worth giving a try, with or without baseball rules (you could just play it as straight poker, as well.)

DOUBLE-HAND BASEBALL

Unfortunately, the game is exactly what the title suggests, regular baseball, except each player gets two different hands that are completely separate from each other. There aren’t really any different rules in this one, but just to note, each hand is separate from the other, and you do have to play in turn.

Why do this, you ask? It puts more money in the pot if you’re at the end of the night and your group has dwindled from 5 or 6 down to 2 or 3. Yes, you can play with two people. I did it one night until 8 in the morning and lost about 100 bucks. But it was cool, because at the end of that semester I ended up taking the guy’s couch off him.

CRISS-CROSS BASEBALL

I think I mentioned in my criss-cross explanation that you can play with baseball rules, so I won’t get too repetetive here since we all know how to play both games now. But Criss Cross is a lot of fun with baseball rules, especially since you hold so many hidden cards in your hand. And…of course…especially when the middle card of the cross is a 3. Match or fold, jackasses!

If you can’t play baseball online, then why not gamble on baseball at the Bodog Sportsbook.

Poker Home Games – Baseball

October 12, 2007

I can’t believe I’ve gotten through so many home games without do a full rundown of one of the greatest pot-building, home games of all time…THE baseball. It’s probably because most people already know baseball, at least some form of it. But there are many different variations that our poker groups have come up with over the years, some actually quite intelligent, but most pretty ridiculous (although creative to say the least).

For this blog, I’ll run down the rules of traditional baseball, and then go through some of the tweaks and variations. Then next week, look for a long, all-inclusive list of the different baseball games that are out there (and feel free to submit some of your own!).

Batter up.

1.) The base of the game is the same as seven-card stud. And betting, for the most part, follows the same pattern.

2.) Right off the bat (get it? I know, it’s lame)…there are some wild cards to keep in mind. 3’s and 9’s are wild. Open, hidden, doesn’t matter.

3.) 4’s also play a key element in baseball. If you are dealt a 4 face up, you have the option of buying an extra card for a predetermined price. Usually it’s the cost of the ante. Some games force you to turn this up, some allow you to keep it face down…and, of course, some give you the option (although I can’t see any benefit to leaving the card face up.)

Those are the basic rules. One suggestion, if you don’t have at least a full house in baseball, odds are you aren’t going to win the hand, so bet accordingly.

Now for a few tweaks.

* This isn’t the case in one poker group that I play in, but it is in another. Personally, I like the game better with this rule because it builds the pots up more.

If you are dealt a 3 face up, you have the choice of matching the current value of the pot or folding your hand. This isn’t that much of a big deal if your first up card is a 3, but if one of these suckers shows on sixth street, then you have a true dilemna on your hands, especially if you’re holding some decent cards.

* In rare instances, and if you’re feeling like gambling, you can make the 9 of spades a double-match or fold option.

Baseball to me is much like playing kickball when you’re a kid. It’s simple, doesn’t take a lot of skill, but it’s fun and you keep coming back to it, although you can’t nail your friends in the nuts with your poker chips as easily as you could with that big maroon kickball.  Gamble on baseball at Bodog.com today.

On the next blog we’ll take a look at some larger variations to this, but still within the baseball family, including midnight, double-hand and criss-cross baseball.

Is that….is that the sun?

October 2, 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve played cards until the sun came up, but back before I actually had to wake up for something the next day, it happened quite frequently. And while it’s not something I’d necessarily recommend, it can and usually is definitely worth it.

I’d say it’s similar to playing bar darts and catching the end that counts just inside the skin of you best bud, Jimmy. If you haven’t done it at least once, you’re not really a player. (Hmm…that may be the most useless comparison I’ve ever made, but it’ s a lot of work to go back and delete, so on we go.)

So how often have you heard the rooster crow while still pushing all in with your eyes so bloodshot you look like a demon spawn? (not that you’d look so great on any other occasion anyway). In fact, I’d be curious to find out how much of the casual poker playing community actually does stay up into the morning hours more than once in a while.

And by morning hours, I’m not talking 2 or 3 a.m., I’m talking more like 9.

There are, in my opinion, three reasons why this happens, and I’ll break each one down and include a personal experience of mine to best illustrate why it makes sense to push being awake for 24 hours over a game of cards. (Like you didn’t already know!)

1.) Time: Sometimes you can’t get your group together until later in the evening. Mikey working at the theater (thanks for the free tickets, by the way), Shoe’s…well….just late, that other kid you only play with because he’s easy money is busy being an idiot, and you only have 2 people available to start at the normal time of 8 p.m. (This is, of COURSE, just an example and not based off any real experiences of my life when we were in high school and had to play at Mikeys house because the rest of us all still lived with our parents.)

All right, anyway, so the game now has to start at 11. What do you do? Shrug your shoulders and resign yourselves to the fact that because some of us had better things to do, that poker will only be 3 or 4 hours that night?

To paraphrase the great Stone Cold Steve Austin – give me a “hell, no.”

No, of course not. You simply slide the entire session later, and thus the ending at 9 in the morning. How else are you going to get in 3 full rounds of hearts and enough money games to the point where you never want to see quarters again?

See, makes perfect sense, on to #2.

2:) The winning streak: This one’s quite simple. When you’re winning, you want to keep winning. I know, big poker secret busted wide open. So you continue to push forward your self-implemented deadline for stopping to accommodate your addiction.

Hey, nothing wrong with that, right? Your watch continues to find ways to betray you by moving forward…not your fault.

I’d cite an example here, but nobody likes reading about someone else’s success. They only want to hear about the time you completely screwed yourself…or the time you lit off fireworks in the park of July 4 before your big annual poker game, only to set the grass on fire and then get caught by the cops (well, that was two separate years.)

Not that that happened, either. (It did.)

3: The losing streak: This one is much more out of your hands, especially if you (like an idiot) brought another financial lifeline with you like a check…or your watch.

You keep pumping those quarters or dollar bills over into the other guy’s pot, and you must keep going until you bring yourself back to even…or only down 10 bucks….or only down $50. As soon as I get back to only being down $50, then I’m done…I’ll be so do(yawwwwwwwwn)ne as soon as that happens.

Of course, if that does happen, that’ll mean you went on an incredible winning streak and…well see #2.

This happened to me once in college. The night game ended, I was down some cash, but only one guy wanted to keep playing. Well, it’s tough to play cards with only two people, so we did the only logical thing to ensure we could keep playing.

We turned it into 4 people.

How? By coming up with double-hand baseball. And, eventually, triple-hand baseball. Which did extend the game, but ultimately only led to me losing the rest of my money three times as fast.

But win or lose, doesn’t it feel amazing to leave the table at breakfast time after putting in a strong 12-hour session? Don’t you feel like you can just take on the world?

Either that, or the feeling that you’d rather be in a coma for the next day. But hey, if I am going to stay up until 9 a.m., better it’s around a card table than being on the tail end a bing-drinking, vomitatious (oh, it’s a word), Denny’s/IHOP night to remember.

Play poker 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on PacificPoker.com.